Yesterday, Snapchat announced the launch of Family Center on its app. The addition includes parental controls that monitor a teen's friend list and which friends have been recently messaged. However, the controls will not display the contents of any discussions.
Snapchat is a social media platform that allows users to send texts, photos, and videos that disappear after being viewed by the recipient.
Parents have been concerned about their children using the app for multiple reasons. Primarily, it encourages a false sense of security that messages will be immediately removed. However, there are several ways to get around the disappearing feature, such as screenshots or the use of another phone to record the contents of a message.
Additionally, the disappearing messages make it difficult for adults to monitor the content their children have sent and received. Snapchat also features a map that can reveal a user's location if not turned off.
Pew Research Center found that 41% of teens ages 13 to 17 use Snapchat. While some users may be younger than 13, it is the minimum age required to gain access to the app.
The Snapchat blog announcement stated, "Family Center is designed to reflect the way that parents engage with their teens in the real world, where parents usually know who their teens are friends with and when they are hanging out – but don't eavesdrop on their private conversations."
The company assured parents that there are already systems in place to protect underage users, including requiring them to mutually accept friend invitations before they can communicate, making their profiles and friend lists private, and limiting their discoverability on the app.
The addition of Family Center will allow parents to see their child's existing and future friend list and which friends their child has recently messaged. In addition, children who choose to opt into the Family Center will be able to see a mirrored view of the information that Snapchat is showing their parents.
In order to access the new Family Center features, parents will need to download the Snapchat app and link it to their teen's account through an invitation process.
This announcement marks the first rollout of features to Snapchat's Family Center. The company plans to release additional reporting features for parents and teens in the fall.
"Our goal is to help empower parents and teens in a way that still protects a teenager's autonomy and privacy," said Team Snap.